Friday, March 23, 2007

Like A Message From Above

For those of you who check this blog regularly, you might be starting to wonder what I have been doing besides riding bikes. Well, the cycling and fundraising have been keeping me busy, and in addition, working for myself as HM Project has begun to be quite a lot of work. Business has been flowing in, it's almost overwhelming at times, but great to have so many design projects in the works.

In the past week or two, having little time outside of work and biking, I have begun to feel uninspired about dinners. My usual routine of reading cooking magazines and books in my downtime has been sacrificed and I have been opting for quick and easy. Just the other day I had realized there were no dinner supplies in the fridge and just couldn't call up the creativity for a menu for that night, when I came across this article in the week's NY Times Food and Wine section. Titled, In Case of Emergency, Extract Sausage From Freezer and Enjoy, it was as if a little food angel came down from heaven and snuck up behind me at the computer.

The article begins by talking about what cooks keep on hand in case of emergency. My answer to that poll would in fact be sausage. I love sausage. I am forever collecting it from the various sources I have available to me in all forms – chicken sausage, sweet Italian sausage, African brand sausage and most recently wild boar sausage to name a few – and freezing it for future use. I forwarded the article to Brad, who occasionally claims that he is "sausaged-out", asking if it sounded good for dinner and he responded, "Wow, did you write that article?"

Well, no. I didn't. But that night I did make the recipe, and as I just enjoyed the leftovers for lunch, it occurred to me that this little gem really must be shared. So, for those of you who will read this blog post when the article is no longer available, the recipe is below. But I do recommend that you read, and then cook!

Chorizo with Sweet Pepper and Onion Stew and Fried Croutons

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

5 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed for frying
2 pounds spicy fresh (uncured) chorizo, pricked all over with a fork
1 8-inch baguette, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
2 large red onions, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 Spanish onions, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped.

1. Mince 4 garlic cloves and reserve. Mince remaining garlic clove, put it in a small bowl and cover with 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a very large skillet or Dutch oven. Add chorizo and cook until browned all over, about 7 minutes. Transfer chorizo to a plate.

3. Add as many bread slices to pan as will fit in one layer. Cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer croutons to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Heat a little more oil in pan and repeat with remaining bread slices, frying them in batches if necessary.

4. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in pan. Add both paprikas and let cook for 20 seconds. Add onions and reserved 4 cloves minced garlic and cook until limp, about 3 minutes. Add bell peppers and sauté until onions are golden and peppers soft, about 7 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes, chicken broth, black pepper and bay leaf to pan and bring to a simmer. Cut chorizo in chunks and add it to pan along with any drippings from plate. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and let cook at a low simmer for 25 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar to pan and simmer uncovered, until stew thickens slightly, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

5. Remove bay leaf and stir in reserved garlic-vinegar mixture and cilantro. Serve stew topped with croutons.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

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